I'm no closer to finding a local wine store that carries my all-time fave Johannisberg Riesling than I was two-and-a-half years ago, when I started writing this column. The 1986 entry from Idaho's Chateau Ste. Chapelle isn't just the most sublime beverage in the history of the universe; it is the history of the universe, dammit, single-handedly reflecting the entire course of temporal affairs in a handy-dandy 8-ounce goblet. Remember how Elton John wrote that his “best friend floats in the bottom of a glass”? When it comes to this stuff, that “bottom” is my worst enemy—'cause that means there's nothing left to drink!
But as I creep toward my centennial (now slightly less than four years away), I'm somewhat more resigned to my fate, which I suppose involves buying the stuff online or on Idaho's sprawling international black market or something.
Thank the wine gods for Ste. Chapelle's Riesling from 2006, which is available for $10.99 a bottle at lots of places around here and whose taste bears a reasonable resemblance to that of my elusive muse. Self-respecting Rieslings tote their share of fruity aromas, dominated by a single such fragrance (I like the ones that trot out apples the best). Like Ste. Chapelle's 1986, the 2006 model somehow makes a case for the peaches and pears in the mix, and its dryish nature makes it evaporate off the palate in slightly less than a nanosecond, leaving immediate room for new infusions of taste.
Try this with a teriyaki bowl or a big fat plate of mahi-mahi (isn't white fish the reason Rieslings were invented in the first place?). It ain't quite the real thing, but it's easily close enough for less-discerning palates like yours and mine. And anyhow, Idaho's world-renowned hotbed black market has enough nefarious activity without the likes of us snooping around.